Clallam Road Department focused on maintenance, culverts after major projects

PORT ANGELES — With two major projects on the books, the Clallam County Road Department has focused this summer on maintenance and culvert replacements, the three commissioners heard Monday.

Public works officials briefed Clallam County commissioners on 2018 road projects, including the unplanned replacement of a poorly designed culvert that has hastened the erosion of a ravine near the intersection of West Bluff Drive and Juan De Fuca Way.

“The new culvert is in,” County Engineer Ross Tyler said in a later interview.

“We’ve got the water controlled, but we haven’t put the road back together yet.”

The $199,968 emergency project on Bluff Drive east of Port Angeles has delayed the planned replacement of other culverts along Pearce and Marsden roads.

“We have been working on the bluff project first because that’s the most critical,” Tyler told commissioners in their weekly work session.

“Those two probably will get kicked in to ’19 — at least 50 percent of them — because of the fact that this emergency came along.”

Earlier this year, county contractors finished building a new bridge for Old Olympic Highway over McDonald Creek and widened and resurfaced the southern section of Lower Elwha Road.

After a 10-month closure, Old Olympic Highway was reopened to traffic at McDonald Creek in early May.

“From a construction standpoint, this was kind of an in-between year where we wrapped up McDonald Bridge and Lower Elwha this spring,” Tyler said.

On the maintenance side, road crews have made good progress with their annual chip seal and lane striping, thanks in part to favorable weather and an investment in new equipment, Tyler said.

“I just wanted to give the guys a kudos for a job well done,” Tyler told commissioners.

“Now they’re turning around and getting ready for the other side of the year, which is all going to be wet and cold.”

The largest capital project that will be delayed until 2019 is the $1.2 million repair of the foundation of the Ward bridge over the Dungeness River, which serves Woodcock Road near Sequim.

The federally funded scour repair is subject to fish windows that limit impacts on migrating salmon.

“Our permits didn’t come in soon enough for us to hit our fish window,” Tyler said in a telephone interview.

“We’ll get it out to [bid advertisement] later this year.”

Some of the contractors working on culverts, which are also subject to fish windows, are being affected by a strike by Local 302 of the International Union of Operating Engineers in Western Washington, Tyler said.

The recent strike, which has had a major impact in Seattle, has also affected projects in Port Angeles and Forks.

“We’ve been asked to be very cautious about speculation of union negotiations and stuff like that,” Tyler told commissioners, “but they’ve managed to get permissions to continue forward with some work on Pearce-Marsden [road culverts] and some work on the bluff.

“We’re just thanking them, everybody involved on both sides of the table for that,” Tyler added. “We’re hoping it continues and we’ll get as much work done as we can.”

The road department shelved a project to install radar speed control signs on Deer Park and Little River roads because of onerous state requirements, Tyler said.

The county also turned down $10,000 in state funding to install rumble strips on the centerline of Old Olympic Highway because of concerns about damage, he added.

“You need 8 inches of pavement thickness, which the DOT [state Department of Transportation] does,” Tyler said of rumble strip installation.

“We don’t do that. We may have a couple inches. And if you grind a couple inches of rumble into your couple inches of pavement, you end up having structural problems.”

Meanwhile, Clallam County is in the right-of-way acquisition, design and construction phases of several Olympic Discovery Trail segments at Lake Crescent and the West End.

ODT projects accounted for $3.8 million of the $8.4 million budgeted for 2018 in Clallam County’s six-year Transportation Improvement Program.

Once completed, the multi-purpose trail will connect Port Townsend to La Push.

“We will obviously be spending more time talking about these [projects] as we move through the budgeting process,” Board Chairman Mark Ozias said in the work session.

Public meetings on the county’s proposed 2019 budget and 2019-24 Transportation Improvement Program will be held in Port Angeles on Sept. 12, in Sequim on Sept. 25 and in Forks on Sept. 26.

The meetings will be hosted by each city’s Chamber of Commerce.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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